Allstate honoring four ’Heroes’ who best represent the ideals of Dr. King through giving back in their communities.
Allstate Insurance Company today announced it is once again encouraging volunteerism on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to be observed in cities across the country on January 18, 2010. As part of the company’s recognition of Dr. King’s vision and its own commitment to volunteerism, Allstate is also honoring four African-American volunteers who generously serve their communities through extensive volunteer efforts and continuously make a positive impact in their neighborhoods.
Lucy Hall-Gainer from Atlanta, Xavier Jefferies from Charlotte, N.C., Marquis Smith from Washington, D.C., and Deanna Woods from Chicago have been designated as the inaugural Allstate Give Back Day Heroes. Each has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to making positive contributions in their communities through volunteering their time and effort to important causes.
Allstate Give Back Day reinforces the importance of giving back to your community and this year we’re excited to recognize four special individuals who demonstrate a commitment to volunteerism and giving back just as Martin Luther King, Jr. did said Anise Wiley-Little, assistant vice president and chief diversity officer for Allstate. We hope their stories inspire people to put their ’good hands’ to good work in their own neighborhoods, not just on Give Back Day but throughout the year
As part of their recognition, each Hero will attend the King Center’s Salute to Greatness Awards Banquet in Atlanta on January 16, 2010 alongside Allstate chairman, president and chief executive officer, Tom Wilson. Allstate will be presented with the Salute to Greatness Award on behalf of the company’s ongoing dedication to the principles and philosophy of Dr. King during the reception. Each Hero will participate in an Allstate volunteer event in their hometown alongside Allstate employees and local citizens on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Allstate is encouraging citizens interested in participating in Give Back Day on January 18, 2010 to visit BeyondFebruary.com to find volunteer opportunities in their communities. This interactive Web site links to VolunteerMatch, an online search engine that promotes volunteerism and civic engagement by matching volunteers with charitable organizations and non-profits. VolunteerMatch contains thousands of volunteer opportunities in communities all across the country. Additionally, visitors to the Web site can view profiles of the four Give Back Day Heroes and learn about their community involvement through a series of video interviews and blog posts.
Allstate is continuing to collaborate with the King Center in Atlanta to celebrate its second annual Allstate Give Back Day initiative by hosting a volunteer rally after the annual commemorative service honoring Dr. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church on the morning of January 18, 2010. To reinforce the company’s commitment to giving back, Allstate also is mobilizing Give Back Day events in markets across the country, to reinforce the dedication that Dr. King had to giving back to the community with a wide range of projects.
Allstate has truly stepped up by creating Give Back Day, an outstanding volunteer initiative that embodies the spirit of my father and everything he fought for said Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter. But an even greater tribute to my father’s legacy is evidenced by the people, like the Give Back Day Heroes, who demonstrate the commitment to serve their communities throughout the year, not just on MLK Day
More about the 2010 Allstate Give Back Day Heroes:
Lucy Hall-Gainer – Atlanta, Ga.
For more than a decade, Lucy Hall-Gainer has assisted troubled women in Atlanta by providing them with a safe haven – the Mary Hall Freedom House (MHFH), named in memory of Hall- Gainer’s mother. As the organization’s CEO, she has helped more than 2,500 women beat addiction and become self-sufficient individuals. Hall-Gainer established MHFH with just $5,000, two apartments and two employees in 1996. Today, MHFH has over 50 apartments and 70 employees to accommodate distressed women and their children. At age six, Hall- Gainer watched her mother die of alcoholism, inspiring her life-long commitment to helping others. An addict herself for 10 years, Hall-Gainer sought help and guidance to eventually end her reliance on drugs and alcohol. With several years of experience working with nonprofits, Hall-Gainer is now living her dream of empowering women and their children to break the cycle of addiction, poverty and homelessness, offering that same helping hand with MHFH.
Xavier Jefferies – Charlotte, N.C.
At only 17 years of age, high school student Xavier Jefferies has done more for his community than most people do in a lifetime. Jefferies’ extensive volunteer efforts include donating his time to the local YMCA’s after-school daycare, where he tutors children in an effort to help them advance in both academics and athletics. He is the founder and president of the Kick Back Crew, a philanthropic youth group dedicated to beautifying Rockwell Park through a variety of community service initiatives. Jefferies spends his summers at the YMCA Blue Ridge Leaders’ School training teens to become leaders in physical education and annually attends the Young Black Men’s conference with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life in his community. Recognized in 2009 by The Charlotte Observer for his outstanding commitment to his Rockwell Park neighborhood, Jefferies was also honored with the 2009 Charlotte Neighborhood Youth Award. It was the second consecutive year he received the award.
Marquis Smith – Washington, D.C.
All his life, Marquis Smith has embraced the need for people to give back to their communities, and he took his mission of service one step further when he joined the Army. Upon his return from a three-year tour of duty, Smith compiled more than 600 hours of volunteerism as an AmeriCorps Jumpstart corps member. Today, he continues his community outreach as a student at Howard University. An education major, Smith is involved with Library Makeover an organization that helps renovate and build libraries in deprived neighborhoods. Smith also interns at the Heart of America Foundation promoting literacy and volunteerism. In his free time, Smith lends a hand to Washington, D.C.’s Sunday Suppers program where he helps prepare and serve more than 200 meals for the homeless on a bi-weekly basis. In 2006, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Smith organized a clothing drive for the homeless in his former hometown of Baton Rouge, La., and collected over 3,500 items in just one month. Smith later organized a toy drive for low-income families in the city, donating more than 1,300 new toys to Toys 4 Tots, local churches and families.
Deanna Woods – Chicago, Ill.
In March 2006, Deanna Woods’ niece, Seritha White, 10, was killed by a stray bullet in her West Englewood, Ill., home as her family was celebrating a birthday party. It was this horrific tragedy that launched Woods into a life of giving back to her community. The incident inspired Woods to create the 68th and Marshfield Block Club and become an ambassador for Teamwork Englewood, an organization founded to promote community development. Along with more than 50 other members living near the same city block in Englewood, Woods, who serves as club president, challenges community issues such as drug dealing and gun violence. Woods is part of community policing with a mission to negotiate with gang members that they stay out of certain areas. Known in her neighborhood as the aunt of Englewood angel Seritha White, she has become a surrogate mother to the children of West Englewood who are looking for a trusted friend. With a focus on children’s safety and growth, Woods’ community work has been recognized by Local Initiatives Support Corporation /Chicago when it named her one of 25 community heroes in 2006.